The 3-hectare Underpass Park of Shanghai is a brownfield renovation project located under the downtown freeway overpass. In a forgotten and derelict place, the existing site was depressing, desolate and unpleasant with heavy shadow, complicated adjacent traffic and fragmented fenced spaces surrounded by freeways and grey infrastructures.
The project aims to transform the brownfield spaces to a series of attractive public realms that have unique identifications, resting areas and various sports fields to serve the surrounding neighborhoods.
In order to achieve the expected goals. The following design strategies have been applied:
Firstly, bold colors and graffiti of three different animals have been carefully designed to decorate different spaces to give them vibrant identifications;
Secondly, several sports fields that are maintained through a public-private-partnership method have been incorporated into the spaces;
Finally, resting areas and appropriate plants have been thoroughly considered to provide safe and comfortable experience.
With the decreasing ecological environment, wild animals can rarely be found in the urban environment. This has inspired the design team to look for creative and artistic ways of getting the wildlife back to the site while applying unique characters to the project.
Graffiti art was chosen as the most important way of showing the animals. The concrete columns of the freeway were used as canvas, with painted animal profiles creating a unique identity for the area. Pink flamingo is used to represent youth and vitality. Yellow leopard indicates dynamism and enthusiasm, while grey zebra represents a relaxing lifestyle. All together, they form the core spirit of Shanghai.
The famous sports field corporation Rucker Park was selected to cope with city council to provide maintenance and a reasonable price for using the fields, thus promoting everyone including low-income groups to come and use the place for exercise and recreation.
Densely planted areas along the edge and beneath the columns have transformed the grey structures to green. Runoff from the overpass and surrounding roads are redirected to planting areas before going into drainage system. Native plants with ability to withstand harsh urban conditions while providing a fine texture have been selected for low-maintenance purpose.
The Shanghai Underpass Park was selected as the most attractive local public space and has been reported by multiple medias since its opening in 2021. It was awarded 2021 Most Beautiful Public Space in Shanghai and has become a national flagship project and has attracted the attention from higher level government agencies.
It has been chosen as the urban brownfield redevelopment model into the “Land-Saving Model Project Recommendation Catalog” issued by the General Office of the Ministry of Natural Resources. In the foreseeable future, more underpass renovation projects will appear not only in Shanghai but also other large cities in China.
Other landscape architecture offices involved in the design of landscape:
ECO-SMART LAB of Tongji University & CX Landscape (Urban Design)
CIXI GALLERIE (Sculpture)
No. 57 Rucker Park, Changning District, Shanghai, China